China and the money out, money stolen, the biggest theft in the history of our great country, you say.
You say there are still more slitty eyes cutting out the heart of America, blood coming out of America’s wherever.
What’s a man gotta do? You’re on a surfing safari gonna shoot down those Japanese cars crashing in wave after wave like rollers on Malibu beach where the California girls with eyes of cornflower blue and hair like wheat-fields they never saw, don’t go any more.
Moloch, your opponents say, the monster eating America’s future. What if the future isthe orange monster, what could be worse? What could be worse? Meanwhile your people insist the wig’s on the other way: you’re the one to save the children and make America great again; and they want you for the part, they love you for the role because you speak perfect American.
You talk fast and loosely poetic in rhythms running from old Philip Marlowe on the West Coast before the Beach Boys, to Allen Ginsberg’s Howl of New York. Not that you saythe same things as the Beat hippie gay fat guy but yours is the same vernacular and it’s all to do with being in the moment – let’s levitate the Pentagon, remember? And each moment is unique so of course you are going to say different things because thedifferent situation demands it and it’s all about the situation (Not the moment? No, that was a moment ago).
You the ginger man playing it like Malcolm McLaren doing what Guy Debord always wanted to; leching and leering, too, as if your middle name is Benny Hill. The spectacle which started with the politic poetic rhetoric of liberal-baiting, red-hating Senator Eugene McCarthy and crossed over to the counterculture, has finally made it home – spectacularly.
How could America not love you?
Muhammad Ali, generally acknowledged as the greatest boxer the world has ever seen and widely thought to have been the most famous human being of the twentieth century, has died aged 74 after a 32-year struggle against the degenerative effects ofParkinson’s Disease.
At the height of his boxing prowess, having defeated the ‘unbeatable’ Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight championship of the world, Ali struggled against America’s war in Vietnam; for black power.
He declared: I am America. I am the part you won’t recognise. But get used to me – black, confident, cocky. My name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.
But was it the Hour that made the Man? Without the threat of jail as well as exile for refusing to shoot Vietcong ‘who never called me nigger’, without (impersonal) reasons for (personal) self-belief, perhaps the Greatest would have remained Gaseous Clay, self-declared Superman bested by an air hostess for refusing to fasten his seat belt.
‘If you were Superman you wouldn’t need the plane,’ she quipped.
On Parkinson, Saturday night UK TV chat-show of the 1970s, Ali pantomiming thewide-eyed stare of the washerwoman who just don’t understand what’s going on, massa. Not only vaudeville but parody of Jim-Crow Louisville, his home town. Sending up the Hollywood put down of his own mother, Odessa, washing white homes all day then denied a glass of water in the drugstore; and still she loved the movies enough to name her second son ‘Rudolph Valentino’.
Eyes agape, the most powerful man in the world, master of the situation, aping the ape you had told him he was, America.
What is the last thing Barack Obama will do as President of the United States before leaving office? Perhaps he will walk along the corridors of the West Wing to a locked room which is only ever opened on such occasions, i.e. at the very moment when a president retires from public life. There he might find an oil painting, resting on an easel; hidden by a green cloth except for the underlying title, Portrait of America.
When Obama lifts the cloth and unveils the portrait, will he find himself looking into theface of Donald Trump? Or the unblemished countenance of a young Ali (same picture-perfect proportions as Elvis Presley), or that of old Muhammad, battered and exhausted by decades of disease?
According to convention, President Obama is allowed to stay and study the portrait for as long as he likes. But then, as plain Mister Obama withdraws from the room and steps down from public office, he must set fire to the picture so that no one else may see it.
Obama will be sworn to secrecy; only posterity can tell us what was in it.